Ankur Mandal

EBS Pricing: A Comprehensive Guide


Ankur Mandal

5 min read

Navigating the complexities of AWS pricing is crucial for businesses transitioning their data storage to the AWS platform. Among the key factors influencing your expenses is EBS pricing. As a foundational component of AWS, EBS offers durable block storage for EC2 instances. Understanding EBS pricing is pivotal for cost management, enabling informed decisions to optimize your AWS infrastructure effectively.

Delving into the intricacies of EBS pricing is vital to identifying cost drivers and exploring strategies for optimization.

This article aims to dissect EBS pricing and provide actionable insights for cost reduction. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage your cloud costs and maximize the value of your AWS infrastructure.

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) stands as a cornerstone within Amazon’s suite of solutions, serving as a repository for crucial files, applications, databases, and more. It's a scalable block storage solution that provides persistent block-level storage for EC2 instances.

Unlike traditional local storage, EBS is powered by AWS' robust cloud infrastructure, ensuring superior performance and reliability. 

It offers an independent and persistent storage option, ensuring that EBS remains accessible regardless of the status of the associated EC2 instances, whether it has stopped or has been terminated.

Despite the ease of creating and configuring EBS volumes, navigating its pricing can prove intricate due to various factors, such as volume types and the amount of resources consumed. Comprehending EBS pricing can be challenging, and if overlooked, it can quickly escalate cloud costs, leading to hefty bills. This is why a detailed understanding of EBS pricing is important. 

Types Of EBS Volume

Understanding the various EBS volume types is crucial to fully grasp EBS pricing, as each type possesses distinct performance attributes and corresponding costs.

Standard magnetic volume: This previous generation's standard EBS volume is supported by magnetic hard drives. It can hold up to 1TB and offers up to 200 Input/Output Per Second.

SSD-Backed Volumes: SSD-backed EBS volumes provide rapid data access due to the non-rotational nature of solid-state devices (SSD) and are suitable for write-intensive workloads. Depending on different performance needs and workloads, SSD-backed volumes are categorized into five types.

  • General-purpose SSD (gp2): These volumes are ubiquitous within the AWS ecosystem and renowned for their versatility and cost-effectiveness. Engineered to cater to diverse workloads, gp2 volumes are the go-to choice for system volumes, development, testing environments, and many low-latency applications. 
    Their inherent ability to balance IOPS and throughput makes them an excellent choice for applications requiring faster response time and read/write operations. 
    GP2 volumes offer exceptional value, particularly for their well-rounded performance capabilities. Priced at a mere $0.1 per gigabyte per month of provisioned storage, they represent an economical choice for a wide range of storage needs.
  • General Purpose SSD (gp3): This is the latest generation of general-purpose SSD-backed EBS volumes, suitable for a wide range of workloads that require low latency performance, such as medium-scale data warehouses. 
    The storage cost for gp3 volumes is typically 20% lower than gp2 volumes, priced at $0.08/GB-month and $0.10/GB-month, respectively. This reduction is more noticeable for smaller storage volumes. It is important to note that the performance of gp2 volumes increases with their capacity. Therefore, it is necessary to provision a volume with greater storage capacity for higher performance.
  • Io1 provisioned IOPS SSD Volume: Engineered to provide consistent, high-performance storage for I/O-intensive workloads, IO1 volumes allow users to define the precise number of IOPS needed for their applications.
    This dedicated performance guarantees dependable and stable storage performance, making IO1 volumes well-suited for databases, critical business applications, and applications requiring low-latency storage.
    Io1 volumes cost $0.125 per gigabyte per month of provisioned storage and an additional charge of $0.065 per provisioned IOPS monthly. This pricing structure can lead to substantial expenses in certain scenarios, so it's essential to exercise caution when allocating these volumes to avoid unexpected costs.
  • Io2 Provisioned IOPS SSD Volume: A premium storage option in the AWS EBS lineup, IO2 volumes are designed to deliver exceptional performance and reliability for demanding applications and databases. 
    IO2 volumes allow users to allocate specific IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) to ensure consistent performance.
    Additionally, IO2 volumes boast higher durability and a superior IOPS-to-storage ratio than their predecessors, making them the go-to choice for critical workloads where performance and dependability are paramount.
    While this tier has the highest price tag, starting at $0.125 per gigabyte per month, and additional charges for provisioned IOPS, it delivers unparalleled performance and consistency compared to the other options listed.
  • Io2 block express volume: The latest SSD-backed EBS volume has raised the bar for performance, surpassing its predecessors, io1 and io2, with IOPS and throughput capacities up to four times higher.

HDD-backed volume: Designed for workloads requiring large I/O sizes or synchronized I/O operations, HDD-backed volumes are divided into two categories.

  • Throughput-optimized HDD Volume: The Throughput-optimized HDD (st1) volumes are a cost-effective storage option for workloads prioritizing high throughput over input/output operations per second (IOPS). These volumes are well-suited for handling sequential workloads such as data warehousing, log processing, Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) operations, and Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) tasks.
    ST1 volumes present a more cost-effective option, with a price of just $0.045 per gigabyte per month of provisioned storage. 
  • Cod HDD volume: Cold HDD volumes (sc1) offer a cost-effective storage option for workloads focused on high throughput rather than IOPS. It is designed to store large amounts of data accessed infrequently, and these volumes are ideal for scenarios prioritizing cost efficiency, such as backups, disaster recovery, and archives where retrieval speed is less critical.
    SC1 volumes emerge as the ultimate cost-saving solution for the most budget-conscious users, boasting a mere $0.025 per gigabyte per month of provisioned storage.

Factors That Impact EBS Pricing

The pricing of EBS is complex, shaped by various factors tailored to diverse storage needs and performance criteria. By gaining insights into EBS costs, you can assess the influence of various factors like volume type, storage capacity, provisioned throughput, provisioned IOPS, snapshot utilization, and extra functionalities on your total expenditure. This understanding will empower you to select the most economical alternatives that cater to their performance needs and financial limitations.

You must comprehend these factors to manage costs efficiently.

  • AWS Region: AWS offers different pricing structures for its services, such as EBS, across various regions. Prices may vary based on EBS storage, I/O operations, and associated costs. Regions with higher demand or operating expenses may have slightly higher base prices for EBS storage.
  • Volume types and storage size: The pricing of EBS is determined by the volume type and storage size. AWS provides various volume types tailored for specific workloads, including General-Purpose SSD (gp2), Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1/io2), Throughput-Optimized HDD (st1), and Cold HDD (sc1). The volume cost directly correlates to its storage size, with larger volumes incurring higher expenses.
  • Provisioned throughput and provisioned IOPS: Provisioned throughput and provisioned IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) influence the pricing of EBS volumes. Provisioned throughput defines the volume of data that can be exchanged with an EBS volume in a single second, while provisioned IOPS indicates the highest number of input/output operations that an EBS volume can sustain per second. These parameters can be tailored to meet specific workload demands, though this customization will incur extra charges.
  • Total Size of Snapshot: The pricing of EBS volumes is based on the combined size of snapshots. Snapshots serve as backup solutions for EBS volumes, offering point-in-time backups that can be utilized for data backup, disaster recovery, and replication purposes. The total cost of retaining these snapshots is determined by their size and storage time.
  • Fast Snapshot Restore: Fast Snapshot Restore (FSR) is a feature that accelerates the restoration of EBS snapshots into new volumes, providing faster recovery times. Utilizing FSR incurs an extra cost on top of standard EBS pricing.
  • EBS Direct APIs: The EBS Direct APIs provide a way to programmatically access EBS snapshots, allowing for automation and integration with various AWS services. Utilizing these APIs offers increased flexibility and control over snapshot management. However, it is important to note that associated costs may be based on usage.
  • Baseline costs: In an AWS environment, each EC2 instance typically comes with one or more EBS volumes designated for storing essential operational elements such as application binaries. These volumes are usually small and do not require high-performance or provisioned IOPS. They are considered temporary as they do not need backups and are detached (and potentially deleted) upon termination of the associated EC2 instance.

The pricing for these volumes depends only on the volume type and size, and they are billed on a GB-month basis. This means that the total volume size in GB is calculated over a month, with charges applied per second and a minimum charge duration of 60 seconds. Understanding this simple pricing structure will help you accurately estimate and manage costs associated with these crucial operational components in your AWS environment.

How does EBS Pricing work?

AWS charges you for what you provision, additional IOPS per second, and throughput beyond baseline performance. The charges for volume storage are the amount of the GB provisioned per month until you release the storage.

For instance, you can provide 500 GB EBS volume for a month. This means you will be billed for 500 GB—of EBS storage, even if you store 100GB of data on that volume. For gp3-IOPS, io1-IOPS, and io2 volumes, you will have to pay for provisioned IOPS beyond the baseline performance and the provisioned storage. 

Amazon EBS Pricing Structure

Mentioned below are the EBS Pricing for different volumes

Now that we've discussed the volume let's delve into the pricing of various EBS aspects that can impact your overall cloud bill. The pricing for EBS volumes is divided into two types, each with its own storage tiers and pricing structures, which we'll explore in detail.

Amazon EBS Free tier

Amazon's free tier program for AWS EBS volumes is a compelling offer for new users. It includes 30 GB of storage, 2 million I/Os, and 1 GB of snapshot storage. This introductory promotion allows users to test the platform's features and eliminates the need for upfront expenses, making it an attractive proposition for those exploring the platform.

Amazon EBS Snapshot Pricing

AWS EBS Snapshots are a powerful tool that freezes your volume's data at a specific moment, allowing you to duplicate your data for backup, crisis recovery, or volume replication. These snapshots are incremental, meaning they only store changed blocks since the previous snapshot, which can significantly reduce storage expenses. They can also replicate volumes, transfer data between regions, or restore volumes to an earlier state after data loss or corruption. The pricing for EBS volume is categorized into 2 different types, with two storage tiers offering different pricing structures.

  • Standard Tier: This tier utilizes incremental storage for snapshots, ensuring that you are only billed for the data that has been modified since the previous snapshot. This cost-effective approach is especially beneficial for regularly updated snapshots, as you will not incur charges for duplicate data.
  • Archive Tier: In this tier, complete duplicates of your data are saved, and charges are applied for all data saved. Despite this, it offers lower storage expenses than the Standard tier. It is important to note that archived snapshots must be kept for at least 90 days, and any premature deletion or restoration to the Standard tier will lead to charges based on the remaining storage days. Additionally, accessing data from the Archive tier will result in additional fees.

Recycle Bin Pricing

The Recycle Bin feature for EBS Snapshots protects against accidental deletions by retaining deleted snapshots instead of instantly removing them. Upon deletion, EBS snapshots are moved to the Recycle Bin, allowing users to restore them if they were unintentionally deleted. Snapshots housed in the Recycle Bin are subject to the exact charges as regular EBS snapshots. This functionality enhances peace of mind and gives users greater flexibility in EBS snapshot management.

Fast Snapshot Restore Pricing

EBS Fast Snapshot Restore (FSR) speeds up the restoration of EBS snapshots to new EBS volumes. This feature enables the creation of new EBS volumes from snapshots in a fraction of the usual time, leading to quicker access to your data.

The pricing for EBS Fast Snapshot Restore (FSR) is based on Data Service unit hours (DSU-hours), with charges being billed per minute. There is a minimum charge of one hour per snapshot and per Availability Zone (AZ) where FSR is enabled. AWS's FSR pricing is approximately $0.75 per 1 DSU hour for each snapshot and AZ where it's activated.

Amazon EBS Direct APIs For Snapshot Pricing:

As mentioned above, Amazon EBS Direct APIs offer developers programmatic access to create, manage, and interact with EBS snapshots more precisely than traditional AWS services. They have the following pricing structure.

AWS EBS Cost Optimization Stratgies

So far, we have discussed the different volume types in EBS, snapshot, and their associated pricing structure. However, no matter how cost-effective they seem, it is important to supervise all the AWS EBS aspects. Not optimizing the EBS cost can quickly spiral out of control, leading to hefty cloud bills. EBS cost optimization is one of the best AWS infrastructure management practices. This is why we bring AWS EBS cost optimization strategies to ensure your data is stored in a cost-efficient cloud environment to help you in this regard.

1. Auto-Scale EBS

Virtana's "State of Hybrid Cloud Storage in January 2023" made the straddling discovery that cloud storage cost was increasingly rapidly compared to the overall cloud bill. However, we at Lucidity wanted to understand what storage aspect resulted in escalated cloud bills. 

We did an independent study of over 100 clients using AWS as their cloud service provider and found that.

  • EBS usage and wastage significantly impacted overall cloud costs. 
  • The utilization of EBS for root volumes, self-hosted databases, and application disks was at a mere 35%, indicating a 65% over-provision of resources. 
  • Despite this overprovisioning, organizations were still facing downtime issues. 

Further investigation revealed that to enhance buffer capabilities and ensure optimal system performance during periods of high demand, the following steps must be taken:

  • The DevOps team will need to implement three manual touchpoints—monitoring, development, and alerting—using separate tools to manage block storage. This manual process consumes a significant amount of time.
  • Some cloud providers mandate a minimum downtime of 4 hours to shrink 1 TB of disk space and 3 hours for disk upgrades.
  • A wait time of at least 6 hours is required before the next scaling process can occur.

Due to these challenges, they frequently prioritize overprovisioning storage resources rather than optimizing them. This decision is often seen as a necessary compromise due to restrictions imposed by Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

  • The limitations set by CSPs necessitate the creation of a specialized tool, a task that can be intricate and time-consuming and demands significant DevOps efforts.
  • Relying exclusively on CSP tools can result in inefficient and resource-intensive processes, hindering the feasibility of continual storage optimization in day-to-day operations.
  • Certain cloud service providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, lack a live shrinkage process. Manual shrinkage is technically possible but requires a laborious process prone to errors and misconfigurations. Moreover, this manual approach involves stopping the instance, generating snapshots, and mounting new volumes, potentially leading to downtime.
  • Deploying a tool across a large cloud infrastructure with over 1000 instances can incur significant expenses. Consequently, organizations often choose to limit tool deployment to the production environment, limiting visibility as a result.

The circumstances mentioned above force organizations to overprovision their resources. However, organizations charge you based on storage resource provision, regardless of whether or not you use them. This means that, due to overprovisioning, you will be paying for storage resources you are not using.

To combat overprovisioning and ensure that your costs do not exceed expectations, we at Lucidity leverage cloud cost automation. We have designed a solution to reduce hidden cloud costs

Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler

Auto-scaling is essential for optimizing EBS costs in AWS, as it automatically adjusts resources according to workload demands. 

This dynamic capability removes the need for manual intervention, ensuring that resources scale appropriately without overprovisioning or wasting resources. Lucidity's Block Storage 

Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler is the industry's inaugural autonomous orchestration solution. It dynamically adjusts block storage to align with evolving requirements.

The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler effortlessly adjusts block storage capacity based on changing requirements. This feature-rich tool offers:

  • Effortless Deployment: Onboard the Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler in just three clicks to revolutionize your storage management process.
  • Storage Optimization: Seamlessly expand and shrink your EBS to maintain a 75-80% disk utilization without any downtime.
  • Highly Responsive: Quickly respond to traffic or workload spikes by expanding or shrinking storage capacity within a short timespan, ensuring seamless operations during demand fluctuations.
  • Efficient Performance: The highly optimized Lucidity agent consumes less than 2% CPU and RAM usage, minimizing the impact on instance resources.

The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler offers the following advantages:

benefits of Lucidity
  • Automated Expansion and Shrinkage: With the Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler, you can easily adjust disk scaling within 90 seconds to efficiently manage large volumes of data. At the same time, the Block Storage Auto-Scaler maintains a stable buffer to handle sudden data spikes, staying within the EBS throughput limit.
  • 70% Storage Savings: With automatic storage resource adjustment, you can reduce costs by 70% by only paying for the necessary resources.
  • Estimate Your Savings: Use our ROI Calculator to get personalized estimates. Select your cloud provider (Azure or AWS) and input your monthly or annual spending, disk usage, and growth rate to determine potential savings.
Lucidity ROI calculator for cloud spend savings
  • Eliminate Downtime: Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler eliminates downtime by automatically adjusting storage resources based on fluctuating requirements. Utilize the "Create Policy" feature to customize storage policies for specific situations, seamlessly increasing resources as needed.
Lucidity custom policy building feature for maintaining buffer

2. Manage Snapshot With Data Lifecycle Manager

Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager (Amazon DLM) streamlines Amazon EBS snapshot management by automating processes without requiring intricate tools or custom scripts. 

By utilizing Amazon DLM, users can automate snapshot functions effortlessly, simplifying snapshot management through resource tags for EBS volumes and EC2 instances. This automation decreases operational complexity and enhances team efficiency, resulting in cost savings. 

Amazon DLM is available across all AWS Regions at no extra charge, making it a convenient and effective solution for EBS snapshot management.

3. Remove Old Snapshots That Are No Longer Needed

Outdated backups with no value may be collected in EBS snapshots, resulting in unnecessary storage expenses.

In most recovery situations, only the latest snapshot is needed for a successful restoration, making older snapshots redundant. While the cost of each snapshot may appear insignificant, it can add up when multiple snapshots are created over time.

To prevent unnecessary costs, it is advisable to set up automated deletion policies to remove snapshots older than a specific age. This will help manage snapshot storage efficiently and enhance cost efficiency without compromising data recovery capabilities.

4. Move Less Utilized Data To Cost-Effective Storage Tiers

To minimize costs related to underutilized data, AWS suggests transferring it to more cost-effective storage solutions, such as Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier, instead of maintaining it on expensive EBS volumes. With considerably lower pricing than EBS or snapshot options, migrating data to S3 presents a cost-saving opportunity. 

By utilizing the scalability and affordability of S3 or Glacier, you can effectively control your data storage expenses while ensuring accessibility and durability.

5. Select The Right EBS Type And Size

AWS provides users with a variety of EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes, allowing them to select the volume type that best suits their budget and performance needs. 

By choosing the right EBS volume type, you can effectively manage performance requirements while staying within their budget, ensuring optimal performance and cost-effectiveness for their applications.

Additionally, when choosing EBS volumes, it is essential to consider the provisioned storage size as it directly impacts the billing. Opting for a huge volume can result in increased storage costs. By carefully estimating your storage needs and selecting the right volume size, you can effectively prevent over-provisioning and lower your expenses.

6. Implement RAID For Higher IOPS

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology consolidates multiple physical disk drives into a unified logical unit to enhance data redundancy and boost performance. Various RAID levels, such as RAID 0 (striping), RAID 1 (mirroring), RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10, cater to diverse storage demands and performance criteria.

To ensure higher IOPS, we would recommend RAID 0. It is designed to evenly distribute data across multiple disks, facilitating simultaneous read and write operations throughout the array. This enhances overall I/O performance compared to using a single disk. However, it is crucial to understand that RAID 0 does not offer data redundancy. Therefore, a disk failure within the array may result in data loss.

7. Finding Detached EBS Volumes In Terminated EC2 Instances

When an EC2 instance is terminated, detached EBS volumes will still accumulate storage costs. These volumes remain provisioned within the AWS infrastructure, resulting in charges for the allocated storage capacity. Additionally, if the detached EBS volumes were provisioned with provisioned IOPS, you will continue to incur IOPS costs even if they are not actively attached to any running instances.

We recommend regularly reviewing and managing your detached EBS volume using the following techniques.

  • Automated Cleanup: Set up automated processes or scripts to identify and remove detached EBS volumes that are no longer necessary. This can be based on specified criteria such as instance termination time or volume usage.
  • Resource Tagging and Monitoring: Use resource tagging to track EBS volumes and monitor their usage effectively. This lets you easily pinpoint detached and unused volumes, allowing for prompt action to reduce expenses.
  • Lifecycle Policies: Use AWS services like Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager (DLM) to automate the management of EBS volumes' lifecycle. This includes setting snapshot retention policies and scheduling volume deletion based on defined criteria or schedules.

8. Identify EBS Volumes Attached To EC2 Instances That Have Been Halted For Extended Periods

When EC2 instances are stopped, the corresponding EBS volumes remain active and consume storage space in AWS. This means that charges for the provisioned storage capacity of these EBS volumes will continue to be reflected in your AWS bill.

Furthermore, if the EBS volumes have provisioned IOPS or regular snapshots taken for backup, you may incur extra costs beyond just storage.

To reduce these continuing expenses, assessing and overseeing your EC2 instances consistently and linked EBS volumes is essential. This involves recognizing instances that have been inactive for prolonged periods and determining if the associated EBS volumes are still required. If the volumes are no longer necessary, they should be correctly detached from the instances and possibly removed to prevent needless storage expenses.

Lucidity Storage Audit To Find Idle EBS Volumes

Lucidity Storage Audit is a user-friendly, executable, and agentless tool designed to automate auditing processes, removing complexities and streamlining operations. 

By providing valuable insights into EBS health and utilization, this tool enables users to optimize expenses and proactively address potential downtime risks.

 Lucidity Storage Audit securely gathers storage metadata, such as storage utilization percentages and EBS sizes, by utilizing the cloud service provider's internal services. 

This ensures thorough oversight without compromising customer privacy or sensitive data. With Lucidity Storage Audit seamlessly operating within your cloud environment, users can be confident that their resources are protected and operational continuity is maintained.

With Lucidity, accessing vital information is just a few clicks away:

  • Overall Disk Spend: Analyze your EBS expenses to optimize your billing strategy. Aim to cut costs by 70% by identifying areas for enhancement and implementing cost-saving measures.
  • Disk Wastage: Identify sources of waste, like idle volumes and over-provisioning, and devise strategies to eliminate them effectively.
  • Disk Downtime Risks: Take proactive steps to prevent potential downtimes, reduce financial losses, and safeguard your reputation.

The Lucidity Storage Audit offers numerous benefits:

  • Simplified Process: The audit process becomes more streamlined and efficient by automating identification and eliminating the need for manual tasks and complicated monitoring tools.
  • Comprehensive Information: This service provides in-depth insights into EBS health and usage, offering valuable information for optimizing expenses and preventing downtime. It grants clear visibility into your storage environment.
  • Enhanced Utilization: Use the Lucidity Storage Audit to analyze storage usage percentages and disk sizes to make well-informed decisions. This can lead to improved resource allocation and enhanced efficiency.

Deploying automated mechanisms, like lifecycle policies or scripts, to detect and handle these idle EBS volumes can aid in cost optimization and guarantee efficient resource management in your AWS setting.

We trust that this blog has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of EBS pricing and effective strategies to mitigate EBS costs. If you're grappling with soaring cloud expenses and suspect EBS as a contributing factor, we recommend undergoing a thorough storage audit conducted by Lucidity. Reach out to schedule a demonstration with us and witness firsthand how automation can drive substantial cost savings over time.

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